NHD 2024: Student Resources & Strategies

Students, we have compiled a big list of resources to help you dig deep into National History Day (NHD) projects.

Understanding NHD Projects


Every NHD project presents an historical argument, NHD offers five categories, or presentation, formats, in each division (Junior: grades 6–8, or Senior: grades 9–12). The documentary, exhibit, performance, and website categories offer both individual and group participation options; the paper category allows individual participation only. Groups may include two to five students.


A documentary is a ten-minute original production that uses media (images, video, and sound) and primary source materials. To produce a documentary, you must have access to equipment and be able to operate it.

An exhibit is a three-dimensional physical and visual presentation. Exhibits use color, images, documents, objects, graphics, as well as words, to relay your story.

Because papers depend almost entirely on words to tell your story, you can usually include more information than in some of the other categories. Various types of creative writing, such as fictional diaries, poems, etc., are permitted, but they still must conform to all general and category rules.

A performance is a dramatic portrayal that is presented live. In addition to conducting research and writing a strong narrative that allows your subject to unfold in a dramatic and visually interesting way, you will need to create/gather appropriate costumes and props.

A website features a collection of interconnected web pages using multimedia that showcases your ability to use website design software and computer technology. All NHD website projects must use NHDWebCentral®.


Each year NHD chooses a particular theme that must be the focus of student projects. Before doing anything else, make sure you understand the theme.

Your NHD Project

Choosing a Topic

  • Flip through newspaper and magazine articles about current events that you find interesting or concerning and then consider the historical and local angles to those topics. (Remember, your project may not be about a current event.)
  • Browse through a history textbook.
  • Check out local and state historical sites, museums and websites.
  • Search the Primary Source Nexus for additional topic ideas (from the top menu bar, right).
  • Watch the Thinkport Inquiry Kits for History Day Students video to get some ideas.
  • Investigate these 2023 sample topic resources to see if any might be adaptable to this year’s theme: Turning Points in History.
  • People
  • Places
  • Ideas
  • Topic Exploration National Women’s History Museum
  • Find your state affiliate and look for local resources, like the ones below.
  • Chicago Metro History Day Topic Ideas
  • Georgia NHD Topic Starters
  • National History Day in Indiana Topic Guide
  • Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS): Topic Weebly Brainstorm
  • MNHS: Topic & Theme Exploration (PDF)
  • Create an outline or mind map of topic ideas that interest you.
  • Consider refining your topic according to the following sequential steps: theme, interest, broad topic, narrow topic, thesis.
  • Review your topic choice by asking yourself the questions below.
    • Does the topic relate to the 2024 NHD theme—Turning Points in History?
    • Does the topic relate to local or state history?
    • Does the topic really interest you?
    • Do you have a personal connection to the topic? (It’s not necessary, but it can be a good thing.)
    • Will you be able to find enough primary and secondary sources to thoroughly research the topic?
    • Why is this topic important?
    • What will people learn from your project?

Developing a Thesis

Researching Your Topic

Selecting & using sources

Citing sources

Putting it all together

NHD 2024: Topic Resources